Billy Skipper Hoping For A Special Win In The Birthday Cup Final
Before leaving the greyhound industry behind for his property in Preston Beach, Billy Skipper is going to try his luck with a handful of final campaigns with his Barry's Special pups.
He took four pups from his star brood bitch (Barry's Special) to compete with some of WA's best short course sprinters last Friday night, in the Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup Heats (405 metres).
Flying Special started off Skippers night with a gallant fourth. Up against Ritchie Rich, Celtic Katie and De Wade, it was always going to be a tough ask for the daughter of Velocette – Barry's Special to win the race.
“Her run was fantastic. Past the post she has gone past De Wade, and you look what Richie Rich did to her, he got her twice during the race.” Trainer Bill Skipper explained.
“She was off a kilo last week. I was wondering why she was running off in the straight, I think 30 kilos is just a bit too much for her.”
Litter brother Special Jim was the run of the night for Skippers kennel. After jumping last from box six and taking the outside route, he soldiered on to victory despite tough competition.
“He did that just recently over the 490. He's not a real 400 metre dog; he is more a 490 and 530 metre dog. Special Jim has been coming out a bit slow recently, he is perfectly boxed out there (box six). He needs to be a bit off the track. One thing about him is that he stays out there, a lot of dogs get out there and come in and knock them all over. He stays straight and runs in a straight line.”
“Once he got his momentum going on that bend you could see he was never going to get beaten. At the 300 metre boxes he was making them look silly on the inside, but I don't think you can ever be confident when you are racing in that grade.”
Special Jim has had 33 starts for 11 wins and six minor placing's. The 31 kilogram dog has Skipper amazed at what he has been able to achieve with his preference of wide boxes. Being the right weight is a big deal for Skipper and he believes that once you find the ideal weight to race at everything else will come.
“I knew that I had his weight right this week, I have had problems with the meat recently. Its better then box one for him, the wider the better. He just takes a while to get into stride. He was always going to give them something at the end.”
The black dog won his heat by 5.75 lengths over Weowna Quickstep in 22.87, cementing his spot in the final next week.
Special Pup was another litter brother to win his heat in impressive style on Friday night, from box one. Coming into the race, the black dog had gone three starts without a win, but this didn't worry Skipper at all.
“You've got to look at how many starts he has won over that distance, as well as his form and weight. Special Pup is one of those dogs that has to be right with his weight and everything else too.”
In his previous three starts, Special Pup's weight had gone from an almost ideal 31.6 kilograms to a staggering 32.3.
“He is a 31.4 kilogram dog. The whole lot of them have been great! I'm still amazed with how Special Jim and Special Pup are running. It's staggering to have dogs that can do that. The only problem here is that they are all one grade, and they only have one race they put on. I'm looking at them going to Melbourne soon.”
Special Annie is from Barry's Special's first litter to Give Me Five. She has won 19 races and has 16 minor placing's from 77 encounters, with prizemoney in excess of $35,000. Before her start in the Birthday Cup heats the little black bitch was beginning to make the move towards retirement, until she trialled impressively over 300 metres at Mandurah.
“I had retired her; I just brought her back for that run. She went fantastic; you couldn't ask her to do much more. We will finish her now and see if we can find someone to put her in pup. She has been the best sprinting bitch in that time.”
In just three months time Skipper will pack up his Barragup property and move to Preston Beach, south of his current location. Skipper will miss his race dogs, but he will be taking three or four retired greyhounds with him.
“The property here is wearing me down and I need a break. I'll take Barry's Special with me as a pet definitely. Now I have all these bitches that I have to place, it's a matter of movement now.”
Although a successful brood bitch, Barry's Special will enjoy retirement from breeding after having three litters. Her third litter to Magic Sprite are just 13 months old; she had three bitches and two dogs.
“Ben Abercrombie has one bitch and one dog, and I have the other three. I have had Magic Sprite's here before and they where ratbags, fairly over the top! That's it for Barry's Special, she is done and dusted. She had trouble with that third litter, so we wont put her through that again. You have to be kind to them; she has done a good job.”
If her previous litters are anything to go by there is a good chance that there could be something special in her Magic Sprite litter. As for Skippers current race dogs, the two chasers that made it through to the Mandurah Mail Birthday Cup on Friday night are in with a fighting chance.
“It's fantastic to have a couple in that race!”
Special Jim has been given box three and Special Pup has drawn box five.
“I think they might go a bit too quick for Special Jim, there will always be something that will get in his way unless he steps out. Special Pup is our best chance in the race; he might get the run from there. We will just go in there with everything crossed and shut our eyes when the boxes open.”